Liberia: MoE Endorses SEA Guidelines for Grade Schools

We are more than delighted to see the Guidelines being officially endorsed today by the Ministry of Education. This is a huge success and we must all take ownership of the success,” said Atty Yah Vallah Parwon.

The Ministry of Education has endorsed Guidelines for the Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) for Grade Schools in Liberia. 

This milestone is a significant step towards fostering a safer learning environment and ensuring the well-being of students in Grade Schools. The groundwork was pioneered by medica Liberia. The endorsement and final validation ceremony culminated at a two-day policy advocacy dialogue held in Marshall Township, Margibi County. 

Key stakeholders from government and non-government organizations participated, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ministry of Health, the Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative, Liberia College of Healthcare Executives (LCHE) Breakthrough Action – Liberia, Liberia Student Union (LINSU), BRAC Liberia, Community Health Initiative (CHI), United Funding and Development for Underage Mothers (UFDUM), RFSU, and Amplify Rights Network. 

The purpose of the guideline is to address Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV), by preventing, reporting, investigating, and responding to SEA cases brought to the school's attention. It is also meant to create a cordial-working relationship between school authorities, students, and parents.

During the endorsement ceremony, Alvin Faike, Deputy Secretary for Programs of the Liberian National Student Union (LINSU), praised the collaborative effort in developing guidelines that protect students in Liberian schools, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding students in grade schools.

Also speaking on behalf of international partners,  J Ben Kitson, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Learning Advisor at Breakthrough ACTION Liberia, emphasized the significance of the collective effort in validating and endorsing a crucial document to prevent SEA in schools. He underscored how this initiative will align with their work and recommended the effective rollout of the guidelines across Liberia.

Representing the Director of Family Health Division Bentoe Zoogley Tehoungue – Ministry of Health, Farzee P. Johnson Reproductive Maternal Newborn Child Adolescent Health Coordinator, thanked all key stakeholders and line Ministries for endorsing the guideline.

She said though the guideline involves the Ministries of Gender and Education for the most part, the Ministry of Health is glad to be a part of the endorsement as the guideline concerns the MoH which provides health services for the survivors as well.  She indicated that the Ministry is committed to working in line with all other partners and ministries for the implementation of the guideline.

“As we all know the issue of SEA in schools and even outside of schools is alarming; it is a burden within our society, this is why it’s important we all work together as partners to ensure our young girls are protected”.

The Ministry of Education was represented by Assistant Minister for Student and Personnel Services   Tarnue Mawolo Bongolee. For his part, he thanked all participating institutions including the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Ministry of Health for their roles played in bringing the policy guideline to fruition.

Bogolee, reiterated the Ministry's commitment to working with medica Liberia and other implementing partners to ensure the effective implementation of the guidelines' in schools across Liberia.

“My office appreciates the fact that we have supported the preparation of a document to help STOP SEA in the schools, this is huge for us”.

Speaking further, Bongolee, also cited section 7.31 of the Education Reform Act of 2011 that criminalizes sexual offense in schools, stating that ‘the Ministry sees the project as a great opportunity to collaborate and enforce the sexual offenses act. “Our intentions have always been to create a safe environment in our schools especially for young girls.

Deputy Min. Alice Johnson-Howard of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), extended thanks and appreciation on behalf of the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Affairs, Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr for the development of the PSEA guidelines. She emphasized the intersectionality of education, gender, and violence prevention in the policy document, praising the efforts of medica Liberia and partners in championing women and girls' protection.

She said, ‘though this policy document has a lot to do with education, it also has a lot to do with gender and violence against women and girls”.

She further stated that “medica Liberia, has been in the Southeast working very hard for years to ensure the protection of women and girls, considering all the challenges we are faced with as a nation. I am very proud of the country director and her team for these great initiatives”.

In her statement to the partnering institutions at the endorsement ceremony, Deputy Min.  Howard highlighted the importance of ownership and sustainability of the guidelines. She indicated that it is important for all line ministries, partners and all relevant stakeholders to take ownership of the policy document and ensure they are implemented.

Reading the endorsement statement on behalf of medica Liberia, was Country Director of medica Liberia Atty. Yah V Parwon – Atty. Parwon lauded the efforts of all partners and the different ministries working together during the development of the guidelines for their collective roles in ensuring they are complete and meet the Government of Liberia standards to be used in schools. She also acknowledged the Rising Youth Mentorship Initiative for providing both technical and financial support for the advocacy dialogue.

Parwon concluded her statement by highlighting that the SEA Guidelines was developed with the assistance of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through medica mondiale e. V. and further supported by Montica through the ongoing roll-out and advocacy.“We are more than delighted to see the Guidelines being officially endorsed today by the Ministry of Education. This is a huge success and we must all take ownership of the success”.